Dong Quai

(angelica sinensis)

Dong quai is a member of the celery family. Greenish-white flowers bloom from May to August, and the plant is typically found growing in damp mountain ravines, meadows, river banks, and coastal areas. The root is used in herbal medicine.

Also known as dang-gui in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), dong quai is sometimes referred to as the female ginseng. Dong quai’s use in Chinese medicine dates back to ancient times. Today it is one of the most heavily used female tonics throughout the world. In Traditional Chinese Medicine, dong quai is often included in herbal combinations for abnormal menstruation, suppressed menstrual flow, dysmenorrhoea (painful menstruation), and uterine bleeding. It is not used in TCM for treating symptoms associated with menopause, such as hot flushes. It is also used in TCM for both men and women with cardiovascular disease, including high blood pressure and problems with peripheral circulation.

What it does

Dong Quai contains the volatile oil ligustide, coumarins and Vitamin B12. It has many properties which include female hormone balancing, anti-spasmodic and a smooth muscle relaxant, mild analgesic, circulatory stimulant, blood purifier and red blood cell builder.

Potential Uses

PMS Muscle cramps Irregular periods
Menstrual cramps Menopause symptoms Poor circulation
Anaemia Osteo arthritis Osteoporosis

Other information

Dong Quai contains phytoestrogenic components which modify oestrogenic activity in the body due to their ability to bind to oestrogen receptors in cells. If the levels of oestrogen are too high, the herb’s comparatively weak phytoestrogens can occupy receptors that otherwise could have been occupied by the much stronger hormone. If the oestrogenic activity in the body is too low, phytoestrogens can exert a mild positive oestrogenic effect.

Dong quai may regulate uterine function and may be of value in normalising menstruation. It is a good female tonic and cleanser and improves blood flow to the uterus.

Cautions

Large doses of dong quai may cause sensitivity to sunlight in fair skinned people.

Do not take it when using medication that causes photosensitivity: ACE inhibitors, amiodarone, some antibiotics, anti-convulsants, anti-diabetics, etoposide, loop diuretics, some anti-inflammatory drugs, oral contraceptives, quinolones, thiazide diuretics, topical antibiotics, tricyclic anti-depressants.

Do NOT use during pregnancy without consent of a qualified medical practitioner. Although rare, high doses may cause some women to experience abdominal bloating, diarrhoea or a change in the typical timing of menstruation and/or menstrual flow rate.

If you are taking anticoagulant medication (warfarin, heparin etc) check with your doctor before taking dong quai.

 

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